The Apple iPad: Underwelming but not a bad price

Apple Ipad

Apple release the islate, itablet as the ipad today. I’m sure many people will write about the device and how they really want one but even with my mac bashing hat on the table its not enough.

If you’ve not seen it, think of a ipod touch and grow it quite a bit and you got yourself a ipad.

The first thing which puts me off is the size, its too big to slot into my life. I want something which I can discreetly hold on the bus without people going hey whats that he’s got there? Something you don’t need another case or bag for. Something I can just carry with me just incase I got 30mins to do something. Some of you will argue that the smartphone is that device but I’m not so convinced. Its also quite weighty, which don’t get me wrong – is good for a large LCD but I want something really light. The real deal breaker and to be fair this was always the case even before it had come out. The Apple App store and Apple Ecosystem.

I can’t express how sick to death of the Apple Ecosystem I am. Everytime I even consider the ipad, I think about my experience with the ipod touch I bought last year. I couldn’t even turn on and use the device without the device talking to iTunes, which meant installing itunes on a work machine to just use the damm thing. Then there was the problem with storage. If I wanted to transfer something over to the device, it had to be via iTunes again. Not even Bluetooth push/ftp/send would work.

Compared that experience to my Sony Ebook reader. First day, I plug it into my Ubuntu machine and it pops up as a storage device with simply named folders for ebooks, pictures and audio. This also means later I can do automated file transfers from any media player I’m using at the moment (I tend to bounce between Rhythmbox and Banshee). Yes the Sony is a less complex device but they got the basics right. In actual fact the Sony ebook reader is the model of what I’m looking for. When I first bought it, I never knew I wanted something like it for size and use outside of reading ebooks. This is why I switched from the Sony PRS505 to the PRS600 with touch screen and ability to write/draw notes.

Since all this hype about the ipad (the last 4 weeks at least) I’ve been thinking what would I personally do to the Sony EReader to improve it.


Add Bluetooth for file transfer, dialup, networking, etc. (Sony could still do this if the SD slot is SDIO)
Run an open operating system like a cleverly crafted Andriod on it
Add accelerometers, proximity sensors and some haptic feedback
Wireless 802.11b/g (Sony could still do this if the SD slot is SDIO)

Some would ask why not a colour screen? Well the problem is colour screens require a LCD or OLED as mentioned in the last blog post, which means less that 12hours battery life at the very best. Having over 2 weeks battery life on E-ink takes some getting use to, but I think the benefits of having e-ink certainly puts it in a different category of device and thats a good thing. Steve Jobs was trying to create a device which is in a different category but I think ended up which is too computer like in hardware but too consumer device in software.

Android would be great to have on there with a open marketplace so people can really develop for it. I don’t know if Android would work on a e-ink screen but you could imagine it wouldn’t take much to build a custom build just for E-ink screens. Bluetooth, Wifi and Accelerometers would open up a whole bunch of applications which the ipad has demonstrated. But the smaller screen would be much more mobile and friendly.

Agreed it wouldn’t be as flash but boy would it be useful and something which people might happily carry around more that this massive pad thing.

I also hope this isn’t going to start a media revolution, because if it is the publishing industry is going to put its eggs in the Apple itunes/apps store they’re crazy. This device isn’t anywhere near impressive. The only slightly impressive part is the price but I assume Apple are gambling that people will use the store to make up the difference in price. Maybe in the end the store will be the undoing of Apple, if developers move elsewhere and/or get fed up of Apple’s treatment, a sudden drop in app downloads and itunes usage could spell a lot more trouble than expected.